The Blue Grouse is a large grouse of mountains
forests of the West. Only the 2 Sage Grouse species are larger amoung
North American grouse species. Observations of the species were made in the Black
Hills during the 1800s, but the species was probably extirpated from the state
by 1900 (Birds of South Dakota -- SDOU, 2001). Reintroduction efforts
since that time have evidently
been unsuccessful, with no observed birds more than 2 years after any
reintroduction attempt. Note that the Blue Grouse is often split
into 2 separate species, the Pacific Coast "Sooty" Grouse (Dendragapus
fuliginosus), and the interior
West "Dusky" Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus).
habitat is generally deciduous and mixed forests, primarily along forest
edges. They move to higher elevation conifer forest during the winter
months, primarily in dense stands.
Diet: Conifer needles make up a large portion of
the diet, especially during the winter months. Also feeds on other
plant material including berries, shoots and buds, leaves, and flowers.
Will also feed on insects.
Behavior: Primariliy forages on the ground during
the summer months, when the diet includes many insects, berries, flowers,
and leaves. During the winter months, the diet is dominated by conifer
needles, and foraging behavior changes, with birds foraging in evergreen
Nesting: Non-breeder in South Dakota
Song: Loud deep hoots by the
displaying male. Also cackling and clucking sounds.
Migration: Semi-permanent residents throughout
their range, although birds do make general moves from more open areas
during breeding season to dense conifer forest during the winter.
Conservation Status: Extirpated from South Dakota, where they were once found in the Black
Hills. Still fairly common in the West, although forest management
practices associated with the timber industry are detrimental to their survival.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Blue Grouse"
Photo Information: August 18th, 2008 - Bighorn
Mountains of Wyoming - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Blue Grouse photos.